All About Symbian - Nokia (S60) and Sony Ericsson (UIQ) smartphones unwrapped

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Old 10-07-2006, 09:37 AM
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Are Killer Apps No Longer Possible?

With more and more smartphones being sold, why is it that application sales aren't climbing at the same rate? Steve talks a look back at 'ye olden days' to see if any lessons can be drawn in the modern landscape. Can killer apps survive ?

Read on in the full article.

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Old 10-07-2006, 09:55 AM
krisse krisse is offline
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I think the number one, overwhelming problem with smartphone apps is their distribution. Apps could be the most desirable thing in the world and they will not sell well because they're so tricky to get hold of for most people.

Until there's an easy to use menu-driven application built into every single smartphone which lets people buy apps by just clicking on an icon (with the cost charged to their phone bill or credit card), smartphone apps will forever be the domain of techies and enthusiasts.

The idea that most normal people would buy apps that involve choosing a compatible file, downloading the file, transferring the file and then installing the file is completely mistaken. It ought to be totally automatic, their phone would show them a menu of compatible apps and let them buy them just by pressing a button.

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Old 10-07-2006, 01:02 PM
alanrichey alanrichey is offline
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As someone who would love to write apps for S60, I believe one of the main reasons is the lack of a robust, feature-rich rapid development tool. Obviously OPL is the main contender, but the present release just isn't up to it.

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Old 10-07-2006, 01:03 PM
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You fail to mention one other factor which contributes to poor software sales: lack of quality applications. I am yet to see one killer S60 app that will "blow" my mind away and make me reach for my wallet. Except for GPS navigation most of the software today is mediocre at best. Let's be honest here… who in their right mind will pay $$$ for a bluetooth detecting app ? (Think about it: for this app to be even remotely useful bluetooth on other devices has to be turned on, 90% of users leave bluetooth turned off). Here's another example: IR remote on your phone. I'm sorry but I'm not sitting one meter away from my tv just because I can turn channels from my phone. UTTERLY USELESS !

So… 99% of apps today fall into your (c) category: 'I made the program because I could do it but nobody needs it, even me' which should be called "the utterly useless" category.

You talk of modern day culture of 'take what you can for free on the Internet". The other side of the coin is the developer culture of 'make as much money and as quickly as possible on the internet from substandard product'.

The fact is: the market is plagued today with poorly designed, poorly coded and poorly implemented apps with tedious menus and childish-like user interface. Why should I pay money for sub-standard product?

Last edited by Arthur; 10-07-2006 at 01:08 PM.

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Old 10-07-2006, 01:12 PM
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One mans killer app is another mans boring piece of useless software. Mobiles are the ultimate personal device. People will never be truly happy with what they get out of the box. The killer app is being able to add software / customisation. It's easy to say there are no good application out there - there are, but it is still early days... The more phone are sold the more sense it make to do niche application - however it is a big chicken and egg in terms of distribution.

For some people Handy Weather may be brilliant, for other they don't care. For the connected business man push email and being able to access some corporate database might be essential. For you it might be programming the home PVR or watching movies from your set top box, or getting a continually updated trainspotter database...

People pay £3 for a ringtone so I don't see a problem with app pricing for the most part if it fills a customer customisation need. Yes of course there is room for improvement - there always is.

Now whether you can a) find/exists b) install c) use that application is another issue! The first two being a general problem, the third being something developers need to look at.
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Old 10-07-2006, 02:34 PM
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3rd party apps or no 3rd party apps I would not change my E61 for anything !

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Old 10-07-2006, 02:37 PM
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I disagree, Arthur, I don't think 99% of S60 apps are useless and in class c).

It's true there's more than the usual number of novelty apps, but I'd rate the existing S60 2nd Edition catalog as 10% class a), 50% class b) and 40% class c).

And the signal to noise ratio is even higher for S60 3rd Edition, so far, at least.

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Old 10-07-2006, 05:22 PM
olevine olevine is offline
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Killer = temporary?

The mobile experience is very personal, as Rafe notes, but it is also very much about immediacy and instant gratification. Connected mobile devices let you get that sports result or weather report NOW, so you don't need to wait until you get back to your computer or to a newspaper.

I think this suggests a world of (a) class mobile apps that are "killer", but only for a limited time. There were a number of mobile apps for the World Cup, for example, that were vital last week, but pointless today.

I think people will pay for the right app at the right time.

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Old 10-07-2006, 05:58 PM
langdona langdona is offline
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I think the point is what on earth do I need that is not already there.

I've had a E61 for a couple of weeks now (very impressed overall) and the only app I've downloaded and paid for is the Advanced English Dictionary which is a goldmine of information and probably my most used app on my old P900.

The only other software I have installed and am likely to use regularly is the Mobipocket reader and Mini opera which are both free. Everything else I need came pre-installed on the phone Wap/Internet brower, Adobe Acrobat. Zip, Office stye applications, text editor etc, etc.

This is not particular to mobile phones. When I got my E61 I also brought a wireless router and installed it. The next reboot of my PC my PC died terminally. So I've been using my E61 (mainly wirelessly) as my main internet access for a week or so. Now my new PC has turned up. The amount of software I have installed on it that I have to pay for is zero! I use the Firefox web browser, Thunderbird email and Open office. and very little else. Oh that reminds me I must download a free zip file program.

The truth is the only additional stuff that I am liable to pay for (and I dont mind paying for something I will use) are a few games. Oh and on that point does anyone know of a good patience/solitare game for the E61 that is something I would pay for!

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Old 10-07-2006, 09:35 PM
alistairj alistairj is offline
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Can I join the E61 owners club? It is a great device but I agree with Arthur re. lack of quality applications. Ok, 3rd edition is a special case, but it seems to be more of a change than developers anticipated.
Applications that I would gladly pay money for:
Tom Tom - not available yet.
Database - not available.
Calendar/ToDo - the standard one is shocking for a business device and is far less functional than a Psion of ten years ago.

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Old 10-07-2006, 10:39 PM
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Here's something thatmay interest you - alternative calendar - http://www.pockettorch.net/forum/index.php?topic=363.30

It in beta which is why I have written about it on the front page yet.

Tom Tom should be avilable soon.
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Old 10-07-2006, 11:53 PM
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People has have already mentioned the big problems of distribution, public awarness and widely different ways in which people use their devices, which all prevent the third party application market to really take off.

But there's a major point that seems to have been forgotten here: smartphones are first and foremost communicating devices. Be it via voice calls, sms, GPRS. 3G, whatever, always-on connection is what makes smartphones different from traditional PDAs or laptop computers. And this is all controlled by mobile phone networks operators who are the only ones deciding what you are going to be able to do with your device and how much you'll have to pay for it.

If killer app there is, it is almost certainly going to be an application that leverages this communication abilty that smartphones have. And that's where one of the main problem lies. If somebody someday comes up with a killer idea, implements it brilliantly and releases his application, which requires, say, significant data transfer via 3G, this application is going to be THE killer app in countries where data tariffs are very low. But in other countries such as France, or to a lesser extent the UK, where mobile phone operators pretty much still live in the last century and charge a fortune for a mere few MB of data transfer, block ports and only allow certain protocols, this killer app is going to be a complete flop. Nobody is going to use it despite the fact that it would have the potential to be a killer app.

So a main factor in the current failure of third party applications is, i belive, the reluctance of mobile phone operators to accept that we are now in 2006 and that things just ain't as they were 10 years ago anymore. Once they'll all have accepted that and be offering reasonable data plans, i'm sure that we'll see a lot of changes happening in our little smartphone world.

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Old 11-07-2006, 06:35 AM
krisse krisse is offline
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I'm amazed you lot are just brushing off distribution problems like that, as if they're not problems.

It can't be a quality problem. Java games and apps are generally much worse than Symbian games and apps, yet they are sold (and I mean sold, not pirated) in vast quantities because it's so easy to buy them: just send a text to a particular number, and back comes the game or app which installs itself automatically, with the cost going on your phone bill. Until Symbian software is available just as easily, it will never do as well as Java.

Nokia did a really quality Symbian game, Snakes, and it got great reviews (80% and 90% across the board) and Nokia actually gave the game away for free to anyone with an N-Gage smartphone. Guess what? Lots of people were unable to download it, they posted on the N-Gage boards saying how they didn't have a memory card reader, or they didn't know how to work it, or they didn't know where the installer app was.

The product was right (it's a great game), the price was right (it's free), and in theory everyone with an N-Gage should have got this game, but it didn't happen that way because the distribution wasn't that good. All of the people who follow All About Symbian would be able to download it, but a lot of people who are new to smartphones (who are also probably the majority of Symbian owners right now thanks to its massive growth) can't cope with downloading, transferring and installing, let alone paying for something, inserting IMEI codes etc etc etc.

In response to the posts on the N-gage board I did a little web page for use with the Services browser which let people click on an icon and download and install Snakes straight onto their phone in a single click without any messing about with SIS files. About a thousand people downloaded it, just from me posting a single thread about it, even though I'd warned them they'd have to pay GPRS charges on it. They didn't care about paying connection charges, they just wanted the game as easily as possible.


--Why should I pay money for sub-standard product?--

If it's so bad, why should you pirate sub-standard product?

If it's so awful, just forget about it. If you use it though, is it really that awful?

You're talking as if piracy is justified if a product is bad enough, but if it's literally useless, as you say most of them are, you can't possibly even want to pirate it.

Last edited by krisse; 11-07-2006 at 06:38 AM.

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Old 11-07-2006, 08:23 AM
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krisse - very interesting, it just shows how important it is to have perspective. I'm sure everyone in this thread is capable of downloading and installing applications (and are probably pickier about quality), but that doesn't mean everyone is.

I've got some interesting ideas about how to make it easier to download software from the AAS software directory. Will have to see how it goes.
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Old 11-07-2006, 11:14 AM
alistairj alistairj is offline
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Rafe - thanks for the calendar link.

This thread has got me looking through my (somewhat bare) applications folder. Surely the criteria for a quality application is 'is it of a quality that it could be a standard app - ie. delivered in ROM'? Three free apps I have meet this criteria: AutoLock, Scrnshot and Mobipocket. All *just work* (AutoLock actually should be in the standard ROM).
There are currently no purchased apps. I was hoping to use HandySafe - it seems to be considered to be 'best of breed' (well better than SplashId). Fortunately I was able to trial it first:
- no import/export (violating Schofield's law (http://www.guardian.co.uk/Columnists...004367,00.html)
- huge 'toytown' font
- notes text truncated without warning
- to read notes text, you have to be in edit mode (yeah, right)
Pretty disappointing really, I wouldn't use it even if it was freeware. I'm interested in buying good, well-designed apps and that is surely where the market lies.
 

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